It's like the El Dorado of Gaming. The Atlantis of Halo. Someplace once fabled as myth and legend.
A place where Viewsonics come a dime a dozen and the custom 360's instinctively flock like the Noobs on the Narrows Bridge.
MLG PRO SITDOWNS
Each week, ESPN Video Games' MLG guru TheBuckStuff catches up with an MLG pro for an in-depth, often irreverent conversation about life in the gaming big leagues. Check back every Thursday for the latest MLG Pro Sitdown.
I'm talking about a place called Totz' Basement.
The setup is as if Totz stole MLG's mainstage, threw it in his cellar, then decked it out with killer old school arcade machines and a ridiculous sports memorabilia collection.
This past December, he hosted an event dubbed WinterLAN that drew over 30 MLG Pros. Ever since, those same Pros can't seem to stop talking about him and his new team, Status Quo.
I will shamefully admit that as of last week, I didn't even know who this guy was. But I did my homework! So let's Tarantino this story and start back at the beginning.
When Halo CE dropped, Totz was a mere first grader. As recently as two years ago, he was just another fan watching MLG on the tube. Now, at age 15, he's cracked the Halo 3 circuit as the second youngest pro. Last season, he failed to place in Meadowlands and Orlando, then simply failed to show up for San Diego. But the youngster persevered, wrapping the season with a 12th place finish in Toronto and 14th in Dallas.
Now Totz is teaming with this random guy named StrongSide. (As for you few conspiracy theorists, Side is on this squad to win games, not to win free flights and food.) Worth an interview? You bet. And, as you know, he comes Neighbor-approved.
So without further ado, we bring to you ... Totz.
TheBuckStuff: I know you've been making waves this off-season with WinterLAN and Status Quo, but do you know the real reason why I am interviewing you?
Totz: Yeah. I was reading Neighbor's interview and I saw my name mentioned. He said I was an up-and-comer, so I guess that's why. Also, we were just playing against Instinct and the two of us ended up in quite a few BR fights. I have to say, it seemed like I was coming out on top in most battles.
TBS: I'm sure Neighbor thanks you for sharing that! Well, he also gave me three questions to ask you. First, is it true that Neighbor and Roy both beat you in 1v1 playing on 10 sensitivity?
Totz: (Laughs) Yeah, they are pretty good at 1v1 but they don't play Chicago rules, so it's not really fair.
TBS: Chicago rules sounds like an excuse ... what are Chicago rules?
Totz: No no, we have our own rules. You know, you have to play by the local rules. No camo or maulers, just battle rifles and snipers. I don't even think Roy used his battle rifle once. He used the mauler the entire time.
TBS: You gotta respect the house rules, man. That's pretty weak. Second Neighbor question ... What are your MLG goals and where do you want to be in two years?
Totz: After playing with Side and basically living with Side the last couple months, he's been helping me get to the top, which is where I want to be -- a top tier player on a top tier team. I want top four, and I want to hold that for a while. At least for a few years.
TBS: The last of Neighbor's questions. Do you actually think you can win Vegas this year? That is assuming the Championships are actually in Vegas ...
Totz: I think it's definitely possible. When we get together and really work on our game, we're really good. We've been LANing against top teams, learning and getting better. I definitely think we'll be a team to beat.
TBS: What's it like to play with StrongSide?
Totz: Side is a really cool guy, first. He's been to the top before and he knows the road to victory. Obviously, that's nice to have around. He's very positive as a leader and has a lot of Walshy in him. He's just awesome.
TBS: You do have a homecourt advantage with this infamous Gaming Mecca that also happens to be your basement. So how have you been performing in the LAN's?
Totz: Pretty good. I'm doing a lot of the dirty work, so you won't see me going huge positive like Side or Ace, but I'm more of an objective guy. Whatever needs to be done, me and Flamesword will do it.
TBS: Tell us about that basement. Break it down for all of us under-privileged that didn't get invites!
Totz: (Laughs) My dad says it's always good not to leave your house if you don't have to, and you don't have to leave your house if you have everything you need already in it! So we've put everything possible in the basement. We hosted WinterLAN, SummerLAN, and a bunch of team LAN's. Based on everything I've heard, everyone that comes has an amazing time and no one wants to leave. And everyone who comes likes to call and ask if they can come again. We've got 12 arcades, including one that has 80,000 games on it. We have a Coke machine, pop-a-shot and a lot of sports memorabilia. And Star Wars figures, if you've seen the pictures. (laughs)
TBS: I did see that. And I heard you had NBA Jam, which I will destroy anyone in. Where did the name Totz come from?
Totz: My brother's friends were always giving each other nicknames and they called him Joe Fries. It's been with him seven or eight years now. So one day, his friend told him he should call me baby tots. Now I'm Totz.
TBS: Now I'm getting confused. Your boy, Ray (MLG pro manager), keeps telling me it's really babytots. But I feel like if you are going to grow to the next level, you have to drop the baby from your name. Glen "Big Baby" Davis was a stud in college but is average in the NBA. You with me here?
Totz: Actually, I'm about to turn 16 and I'm officially dropping "baby" from my name. So big changes - 16 and a new name.
TBS: Ok, the following five questions are how I judge everyone in life. Not really, but be careful how you answer anyway. First, Kobe or LeBron?
Totz: Kobe, all the way. My best friend is a huge LeBron fan, so of course I have to go against him. I'm all about Kobe now.
TBS: Can't agree, but okay. Rock, paper or scissors?
Totz: What? (Laughs) I gotta go with Rock. You know, hard-bodied, tough. You can't get through a rock.
TBS: Bruce Springsteen or Dave Matthews?
Totz: Dave Matthews, for sure. I say that because I just saw Bruce on TV and he wasn't that great.
TBS: I'm actually insulted. Next, "The Office" or "30 Rock?"
Totz: Oh, The Office, for sure. I can't think of that guy's name, but the dude from "40 Year Old Virgin" is hilarious.
TBS: Last one. Default or inverted?
Totz: Default. Invert gets me dizzy fast. I tried playing invert back in Halo 1 days, and I threw up afterwards.
TBS: (Laughs) Seriously? OK, more on you as a Halo player. If there was one thing -- could be anything -- that you think you are better at than anyone else, what would it be?
Totz: This is coming from a lot of people -- everyone says my Ghandi hop is at another level. When I'm one-shot, everyone says it's hard to finish me off.
TBS: Let's pretend (wink wink) I'm one of those people that doesn't know what a Ghandi hop is. Can you explain that?
Totz: (Laughs) No problem. It's when you jump, you hit the crouch button repeatedly and your player kind of floats. But he keeps bringing his knees up, so he's moving up and down. It's makes it hard to keep steady aim on me.
TBS: Right. I knew that. Who is your MLG idol?
Totz: I have two of them, is that okay? StrongSide and Neighbor. I used to watch Halo 2 when it was on TV, and Side and Neighbor were such sick players, and they seemed like cool guys.
TBS: And if you could have MLG in any city, where would you have it?
Totz: Definitely Chicago. The city is great, one of the best. I think it'd be a lot of fun for spectators to check it out. There is good food, plenty of things to do and, of course, the Totz' House.
TBS: Ok, it's only fair ... I let Neighbor chose who he wanted to interview, so I'm going to give you the same opportunity. You're hosting teams on a weekly basis, you know all the good juicy gossip. So if you were me, who would you interview for next week?
Totz: Tough one, but I'll go with Hysteria. He's with two younger players with Pistola and Heinz, and when he came over to LAN, I thought he was sick. I really think he's the best player in the game. He's leading Triggers Down right now and I expect to see big things from them as a team this year.
TBS: And what three questions would you ask Hysteria?
Totz: First, how many Red Bulls did you drink at Totz' house? I'm going with at least four fridges. Second, do you think you'll win Meadowlands? And third, who is the best sniper on Triggers Down? They were having a pretty heated debate over that when they came over to LAN. You should get a pretty good response.
Visit us every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET for a new MLG Pro Sitdown. Next week, we're going to search high and low to track down Hysteria. And be sure to hit up TheBuckStuff on Xbox Live with your feedback!